If you’ve ever watched someone swirl their wine glass and observed the way the liquid clings to the sides of the glass, you may have noticed the phenomenon known as “legs.” Also referred to as “tears,” legs are the streaks or rivulets of wine that form on the inside of the glass after swirling. In this article, we’ll explore what legs are and what they can tell us about wine.
Legs are the result of a combination of factors, including the wine’s alcohol content, sugar content, and surface tension. When you swirl the wine in the glass, it coats the sides of the glass, and the alcohol in the wine evaporates, leaving behind the other components. The surface tension of the wine causes it to cling to the glass, forming streaks or droplets. The more alcohol in the wine, the slower the evaporation and the more pronounced the legs will be.
While legs are often associated with high-quality wine, they don’t necessarily indicate a better wine. In fact, the presence or absence of legs is not a reliable indicator of a wine’s quality or taste. Legs can vary widely depending on the wine’s alcohol and sugar content and other factors such as temperature and glass shape.
However, what legs can tell us is something about the wine’s viscosity and body. Thicker, more viscous wines tend to have more pronounced legs, while lighter wines may not show legs at all. Legs can also be an indicator of a wine’s sweetness, as wines with more residual sugar tend to have more pronounced legs.
While legs may not tell us everything about a wine, they can still be a fascinating and visually appealing aspect of wine appreciation. So, the next time you swirl your wine glass and observe the legs, take a moment to appreciate the unique characteristics of the wine and the complex interplay of factors that contribute to its appearance and taste.